The Visa process for China in short
As soon as you travel to Shanghai for commercial or academic purposes, an L visa is no longer going to cut it. In this case, you need an F visa.
It is valid for a stay of up to six months. Among other things, it requires a letter of invitation from your Chinese contacts, a Chinese business organization, academic institution, etc. An F visa is especially suitable for shorter business trips and academic research projects.
The Long-Term Employment Visa
If you want to live and work in China for a couple of years you will have to apply for a Z visa.
You are going to need Employment License and a official invitation in order to apply for your Z visa. If you want to stay in China for more than six months, you will have to include a health certificate as well. This health certificate requires chest x-rays, testing for HIV and other STDs, an ECG, and other medical check-ups. Once you have obtained your Z visa, don’t forget to register with the local Shanghai police within 24 hours of your arrival.
As of September 1, 2013 expats may also qualify for a R visa, which aims to recruit senior-level professionals with skills that are needed in China.
Residence and Work Permits
Within the first 30 days of your stay, you also need to change your visa into a proper Residence Permit for Shanghai. As of September 1, 2013 the validity period for work-related residence permits ranges from 90 days to 5 years.
When applying for a work-related residence permit, you must submit the following to the local (above county level) exit and entry administration authority:
- travel documents, including your passport
- photos and other supporting personal documents
- human biometric information, including fingerprints
- a health certificate valid for more than one year
- work permit
- documents from the Chinese authorities proving that you are a senior-level professional with skills needed in China